During this past year I’ve cast a regal eye across the nation, capital, and Clapham commonwealth and seen a land of diversity, adversity, community and crisis. It would be easy to fill this speech with shapeless and generic low-calorie phrases that condescend themselves onto your plebian shoulders like dandruff sprinkled before a wind machine, but today one chooses real topics, issues, about which to share my thoughts on Christmas Day: The abuse and mistreatment of ‘The Hipster’, Technology’s War on Love and Gentrification as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
Whilst for my husband and I this year has been one of (colonic?) colonial discovery and triumph, for ‘The Hipster’ it has been nothing short of an ‘anus horribilus’. Why dost one despise the hipster so? Should we not celebrate the once-was-lost-but-now-have-found bearded gentleman? Should we not embrace the cable knit and the corduroy? Rejoice the spinning wheel! Delight the potters kiln! Bring me my knitting needles! But more importantly – Does not the hipster represent a pacifistic demolition of Grayson Perry’s aggressive “Great White Male”. Was not my father George VI the original hipster?
Let us celebrate the rare occasion when the middle classes found for themselves a fashion, a life style. Gone is the never-ending winter of Simon Cowell and flat packed IKEA ideals. Step forward rare vinyl releases, turned wood and the fair trade flat white!
Fashion is almost always born of the gutter and then adopted by the idea-thin rich. So rare that the silent middle classes create something of their own instead of cowering in the shadow of either an urban low slung jean or Sloane rangers scarlet chino. In our wildflower meadows we now enjoy parsnip-cut-sack-cloth breeches, customised ballet pumps and cheese cloth. What hipster bashers brand as homogeny is in fact a light-hearted solidarity. Join them! Throw down the razor blade! Mount the tandem! Power the lathe!
And so one turns her head away from the artisanal unto the technological: Lo! The two headed beast chomping voraciously at the spaghetti-like threads which join us as people. Grindr and Tindr! Fascist faceless dictators promising quick-fire relationships and the constant over-shopping of the soul. The sweet peel of wedding bells drowned by the buzz of push notifications and alerts, summoning us to the emotional guillotine. And for what? A tediously miserable half Nandos chicken for two in Dalston. Help yourself to cutlery, select a sauce and hope to blind jesus the chilie won’t sting as much as the puss dripping from your diseased loins a week or two later. Second date? 10.45, Tuesday, Dean Street GUM!
Have we lost our desire, nay our very ability to meet, converse and copulate? As I sit beside my Royal Consort, upon the satin sheets of our regal bed, flicking trough ID magazine for photographs of myself, I shed a tear for London’s heroes who are fighting on the frontline of Grindr; brave heroine’s negotiating the war on Tindr. Then I gaze at my husband Colin and wonder if ‘Big Blk BB Brad’ is still 365 feet away and ready for some NSA P&P?
Which brings me to the centerpiece of this festive speech: Decay and the loss of decadence.
London’s loss of decadence which lies not in her grandeur but in her decay. London is losing its sleaze! And if it wasn’t for us the royal family, there’d be hardly an ounce of sleaze left.
Soho, previously seething with ripped fishnets and strap-ons now wall-to-wall pre-prepared Pret A Manger turkey and cranberry refrigerated sandwiches. The only cheeky wrap you’ll be buying after hours through a hatch now on Denmark Street is full falafel and houmous! Cheeky snake bites and love bites give way to novelty gifts and friggin’ Fro-Yos! Soho!? So what! We are at the risk of throwing away the lusty beating of our hearts for the price of a Reheated Meatball Sub (weirdly, he’s also someone on Grindr).
And in my provinces, Hackney! Peckham! Walthamstow! I stop at derelict buildings and try to peak through their boarded up windows. Infusing myself with the wonderful stench of decay. Dereliction now dwarfed by glass castles with their security check moats and swipe card portcullises with names such as ‘Avant Garde Tower’. Even Buck House herself prides herself on a damp patch or two. No wonder everyone’s running to Tottenham.
But even in Tottenham there’s no bag of treasure at the end of the N243. As the city gets covered in swathes of sparkling marble and mirrored glass like some vast Coldharbour Lane manicure, will we lose the festering grime under the finger nails from whence our trolling spirits gorge, feed and celebrate?
We are at war London! Our cultural identity is under threat. The threads of our relationships are a risk of tearing. We turn on ourselves for wearing suede shoes out of season. Touch screen technology is obliterating what we once ‘felt’.
As my dear, dear friend and confidant John Sizzle so succinctly put it, “The next fucker who asks me if they can charge their VAP e-cigarette in my DJ booth is going to get a Prosecco cork in their fucking eye.” You see my children, beauty is imperfection, it doesn’t need a wifi connection, beauty is unplugged. Follow me on Instragram and I’ll show you.
And so as I hang the final bauble on my tree. I see not a reflection of myself but a fish-eyed promise of our future…
A promise of a place where all are celebrated whether they wear home spun yarns or discount man made flibres. Bring back living, breathing, talking, three dimensional human beings with feelings not statistics and statuses.
A promise of a bit of good-old-Oom-Pah-Pah-dancing-on-tables-London-frayed-at-the-edges-nonsense. Let’s reconnect. Together we are strong.
But my promises mean nothing if we don’t all unplug, switch off and reach out. It’s 2015 and it’s time to bask in The Glory!